Oregon Voters Have Spoken

Oregon AFL-CIO Weekly Update: Oregon Votes Have Spoken
January 24, 2018

Oregon Voters Have Spoken: Measure 101 Passes!

The results are in: Measure 101 passed yesterday, with over 60% of voters saying “yes” to making sure healthcare is accessible to hundreds of thousands of Oregonians, including some of our state’s most vulnerable. Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain responded to the news in a press statement last night, praising the efforts by union members in communities around the state for mobilizing to get out the vote for this important election:

“Oregon’s voters have spoken: everyone deserves access to affordable healthcare. Our state is one where we see Medicaid as essential for children, for seniors, for people with disabilities and for workers. Oregon’s unions played a tremendous role in passing Measure 101, and by mobilizing union members in cities around the state we sent a strong message: Every Oregonian, especially the most vulnerable, should have access to healthcare. I’m inspired by what we accomplished together, and through our hard work alongside 175 organizations to pass Measure 101, we have set a course to continue winning elections for working people in 2018.”

The support for the ballot measure in this special election was statewide, some county-level highlights include:

64.4% Yes in Clatsop County
54% Yes in Curry County
52% Yes in Deschutes County
70% Yes in Hood River County
58% Yes in Jackson County
67% Yes in Lane County
66% Yes in Lincoln County
60% Yes in Wasco County
54% in Yamhill County

Thank you to everyone who knocked doors, called and texted with voters and worked hard to pass this important ballot measure.

Oregon’s Union Movement is Growing

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its annual report on union membership, which found that the number of union members rose by 260,000 in 2017 nationwide. This reflects a wave of organizing victories across a range of industries which have brought higher wages, better benefits, and a more secure future for working people. In Oregon, union membership increased in 2017 from 228,000 to 262,000 – a 1.4% increase.

Additionally, the Oregon AFL-CIO saw the membership of affiliated unions increase by 2.4% in 2017, a sign that the State Federation is growing strongly. This growth is attributed to successful organizing efforts among affiliated unions during the past year. The Oregon AFL-CIO provides ongoing assistance and support to affiliated unions in both internal and external union organizing campaigns as a way to strengthen Oregon’s union movement and by extension, create more prosperity for working people across the state.

“Today’s data is more than numbers, it tells us a powerful story and gives working people hope for a better future. It’s about workers standing together to bring forward positive change at work. That’s what belonging to a union is about: standing shoulder to shoulder with your coworkers to protect your freedom to find prosperity, to earn a decent living, to have safe working conditions and respect and dignity on the job,” said Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain. “We live in a country where inequality is rampant. Unions remain the single most effective tool for working people to fight back against inequality. As more workers stand together, our movement will grow, and the future of millions of families will be more secure. This is good news, but our work is not over. Oregon’s unions remain committed to building a state where working people can prosper, and where our freedom to stand together in union is fiercely protected.”

Key National Trends:

  • Workers in so-called “Right-To-Work” states like South Carolina and Michigan are joining unions by the thousands.
  • Young workers continue to drive union growth. Since 2012, union membership among workers under 35 has continued to rise. Last year, they made up three quarters of new members.
  • Professionals and information industry workers continue to drive growth, reflecting key organizing successes by the Communications Workers of America; the Writer’s Guild of America, East; the American Federation of Teachers; and the American Federation of Government Employees.
  • Recent victories are among workers across sectors ranging from media employees to charter school teachers and librarian professionals to the 20,000 doctors who joined unions in the last year.

LERC Black History Month Events

The University of Oregon’s Labor Education and Research Center (LERC) will host three Black History Month events:

Pioneering a Living Legacy: Shaping Our Vision for Diversity and Inclusion in the Labor Movement will feature two prominent African American women local leaders: a labor leader who transformed a male dominated industry as a licensed electrician journeywoman; the second a scholar on feminism and tradeswomen’s struggle for equity and inclusion in the building and construction industry. A lively facilitated discussion will follow the presentations and the short film, “Sista in the Brotherhood.” Click here for more information.

  • Portland
    Thursday, February 8, 2018, from 6:00-8:30 p.m.
    White Stag Building 70 N.W. Couch St., in Portland

Race and Labor: Building a More Just Economy features a long time civil and labor rights activist who has challenged the labor movement’s leadership and systemic structure to welcome more transparency in building a culture of inclusion and grassroots empowerment. We will explore the components of reinvigorating the labor movement as a global movement for social and economic equity for workers. Click here for more information.

  • Portland
    February 20, 2018, from 6:00- 8:30 p.m
    White Stag Building 70 N.W. Couch St., in Portland
  • Eugene
    February 21, 2018 from 4:00-6:00p.m.
    University of Oregon Eugene Campus, Straub Hall, room 145

Petition: Keep NAFTA Renegotiations Focused On Working People

More than 30,000 working people have signed the petition to the U.S. Trade Representative calling for an open and transparent North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation process. But we need more people to stand up and speak out for fair trade.   The next round of NAFTA negotiations is set to begin Jan. 23 in Montreal, and we won’t stop speaking up until we have a trade deal that works for all.

Click here to sign the petition telling the U.S. Trade Representative to keep the negotiations transparent and focused on working people, instead of giving a pass to corporations to outsource jobs and lower wages.

The original NAFTA agreement signed 25 years ago has failed working people across the entire continent.  As it’s currently written, NAFTA gives foreign investors broad rights while containing no enforceable labor or environmental standards. This trade deal makes it easy for corporations to outsource jobs to Mexico where there are few worker protections, so they can take advantage of lax labor standards and lower wages. This is the opposite of fair trade. In fact, the Mexican government actively works with businesses to keep wages low, suppress unions and ensure that abusive employers can do as they like.

Working families want an economy that works for all, and not just corporations and the rich. But that’s going to take action. Add your name now to demand a NAFTA agreement that includes labor, environmental and climate provisions, raises wages for all workers, and holds corporations accountable.